Top Trump military adviser concerned about Google helping Chinese military
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 28, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — In a meeting at the White House, President Donald Trump and General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with a top Google exec on Wednesday over concerns that Silicon Valley tech giants are aiding China’s military in the country’s “Made in China: 2025” project.
The meeting with Google CEO Sundar Pichai followed testimony on March 14 by General Dunford, who told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Google is collaborating with Chinese partners in technology ventures that may have military applications. “We watch with great concern when industry partners work in China knowing there is that indirect benefit, and frankly ‘indirect’ may be not a full characterization of the way it really is,” Dunford said. “It’s more of a direct benefit to the Chinese military.” Dunford is Trump’s top military adviser.
Following the meeting on Wednesday, President Trump signaled his satisfaction, tweeting that the meeting went well and that Pichai is committed to helping the U.S. military. The president tweeted, “He stated strongly that he is totally committed to the U.S. Military, not the Chinese Military.” This was a counterpoint to an earlier presidential tweet, which read: “Google is helping China and their military, but not the U.S. Terrible!”
Trump and Republicans have criticized Google in the past. In 2018, Google announced that it would not renew its contract with the Defense Department to aid in drone technology, sparking criticism from Republicans. Additionally, Dunford criticized the company for opening a research branch in China in 2017.
Before the meeting, Google had emphasized its willingness to work with the Pentagon on certain projects and denied working with the Chinese military. The Silicon Valley giant stated that it is working with the Department of Defense in cyber-security, recruiting, and health care.
Elsa Kania, an adjunct fellow with the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) in Washington, D.C., spoke to NPR in a report about China’s Baidu search engine, which leads the Asian nation’s move to dominate A.I. China’s military, she said, is focused on using A.I. to achieve an advantage in conflicts with the West, and “actively seek to leverage the dynamism of Chinese private sector advances in AI.” A.I. is used in applications such as autonomous vehicles, facial recognition, and image processing, as well as battlefield health care, target recognition, and cyber-security for the military. Kania said China’s talent base and “massive amounts of data” give it an advantage in the field where the U.S. appears to be lagging.
IEEE reported that even if Google has not worked directly with China’s military, Kania said it is “noteworthy that some of Google's current and potential partners in China, including Fudan University and Tsinghua University,” are committed to China’s policy of “military-civil fusion.”
Google is not the only American company that may pose concerns for U.S. military strategists. Other companies and universities are also devoted to developing dual-use and sensitive technologies. Those companies include Amazon, Apple, IBM, and Microsoft, conducting research in China on projects that include A.I. applications development and recruiting Chinese talent.
According to IEEE, Kania said, “Certainly, there is a real risk that Google's engagement in China could benefit the Chinese military and government, including through facilitating tech transfer and contributing to talent development.” She has urged caution in any joint U.S.-China exchanges and projects.
Steven Mosher is an expert on China who presides over the Population Research Institute (PRI) and is among the founders of the new “Committee on the Present Danger: China.” In a statement on Thursday, Mosher said the U.S. is in a “new cold war” with China, which “poses the greatest threat to both the United States and the world since the fall of the Soviet Union.” Mosher, who once exposed China’s forced abortion policy, said China’s “totalitarian regime with an evil ideology,” which is willing to “kill 400 million of its own unborn children,” must be stopped.
This week, Mosher revealed the danger posed by China’s effort to obtain DNA from its own citizens and the citizens of other countries. By obtaining the U.S. gene sequencing company Complete Genomics and acquiring advanced gene sequencing technology, China’s Beijing Genomics Institute, according to PRI, earned the nation access to a “DNA database that contains the private genetic information of a large number of Americans.” There are 23 U.S. companies associated with China, PRI said, that perform molecular diagnostics and genetic testing and sequencing. With access to individual Americans’ genetic data, the companies send samples to China for analysis, said PRI.
Biotechnology, like A.I., is a dual-use technology that may have military applications, said the PRI statement. Mosher expressed concern that China could “bioengineer” specific versions of virulent diseases to which the Chinese are immune. “While no use of an advanced, genetically targeted bio-weapon has been reported, it wouldn’t be beyond the reach of China’s biotech industry,” Mosher said. The PRI statement asserted that China is seeking not only to become a “biotech superpower,” but to also develop bioweapons that “target specific DNA strands.”